Residents of Billings, Montana, encountered a rather strange sight this week: A giant white ball hovering in the sky in broad daylight. The ball drifted between clouds and shimmered in the sun. It looked almost like a second moon.
American military officials suspect that the floating mystery object is a Chinese spy balloon. The high-altitude object, they say, traveled from China to Alaska and then Canada before crossing into the continental United States. The U.S. government considered shooting down the balloon before determining that the resulting debris could endanger those on the ground. China has insisted that the aerial interloper isn't a surveillance system, but a weather balloon that was unfortunately blown off course. The White House said that the balloon isn't a threat to anyone on the ground, but the U.S. secretary of state has postponed a scheduled trip to Beijing, reportedly because of the situation.
In a way, this is one more uncomfortable chapter in the story of adversarial nations operating in a shared stratosphere. It is also—hear me out—a little refreshing. After several years of breathless news coverage of mysterious things moving across the sky, inscrutable pilot footage, and shadowy government programs, here is a headline-grabbing flying object of concern that is, for once, identified. The U.S. and China may have different explanations for what the thing does, but we know what it is—and it's not aliens.
As in the case of the Chinese balloon, there are almost always terrestrial explanations for unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, a term that has been synonymous with aliens since the moment government officials introduced it in the 1950s. (These days, the official term is UAPs, for "unexplained aerial phenomena.") UFOs have classically been depicted as saucers, but sightings of all sorts of objects have been mistaken for the otherworldly over the years: military aircraft, drones, floating lanterns, meteors, weather events, birds, the afterglow of rocket launches—even the planet Venus, on its brightest days. And, of course, balloons. One of the most famous UFO sightings, over Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947, turned out to be a high-altitude balloon belonging to the Air Force.
The first (and typically secretive) government programs dedicated to identifying UFOs emerged around that time, and they've been contending with civilian sightings ever since. Last year, the Defense Department established a new office to spot and identify "anomalous" objects flying around its military installations. In a recent analysis of 366 UAP sightings, the office characterized 163—about 45 percent of reports—as "balloon or balloon-like entities." Some reports turn out to not concern objects at all: One of the most intriguing UFO videos in recent years was found by a Pentagon analysis to be the result of a quirk of camera equipment. Another widely circulated video that captured a fast-moving object was explained away as an optical illusion.
[Read: What the UFO discussion really needs]
This is the great disappointment of UFOs. Sightings get "debunked," and those that are unexplained—requiring "further analysis," as the Defense Department puts it—usually stay that way. And any unanswered questions are a matter of national security, not ET; government officials said that when the Chinese balloon was spotted, they "acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information"—hardly a cosmically thrilling response. To this day, there has been no definitive evidence that any UAPs merit existential panic. The atmosphere is a bad place to look for such signs, anyway. As I've written before, if aliens exist (or once existed), their stories are probably playing out (or once did) light-years from Earth.
You know what is everywhere? Balloons. Eyewitness reports put the Chinese spy balloon over Missouri this afternoon. Canadian officials said yesterday that they were monitoring what could be another high-altitude balloon. As I was writing this story, I looked out my apartment window and saw a party balloon zooming over the rooftops. An alien explanation would have been great for my career. But we haven't found such an answer to that grand question yet, not in our atmosphere or beyond it. We must settle for this: In a universe where the truth about aliens is out there but difficult to find, we can have at least one balloon-shaped truth.
An expert explains why it's so odd that the suspected Chinese spy balloon can change course
Nature Communications, Published online: 04 February 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-35987-2Recent experiments have found a two-fold van Hove singularity (TvHS) in the kagome metal CsV3Sb5. Here, the authors use perturbative renormalization group calculations to find that the leading instability in a model of TvHS is a
Nature Communications, Published online: 04 February 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36320-7Rapid compression experiments on quartz provide evidence for a metastable high-pressure phase with rosiaite structure. The phase forms as lamellae and breaks down to glass during decompression. These discoveries may solve the enigma of lamellar amorphization of quartz during impact events.
Nature Communications, Published online: 04 February 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-35995-2It is critical to understand the factors that are associated with
Nature Communications, Published online: 04 February 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36335-0Single atom catalysts not only maximize the atomic efficiency of noble metal but also introduce unconventional geometric and electronic structures. Here, the authors demonstrate the decoration of iridium single atoms on silicon photoanodes to boost the photogenerated charge carrier kinetics.
Nature Communications, Published online: 04 February 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36132-9STING is an intracellular sensor of pathogen- or host-derived DNA. In this study, the authors identify an ESCRT complex that regulates STING degradation, thus acting as a homeostatic regulator of STING signalling and type-I interferon responses.
|submitted by /u/_blue_heat_
I've been following tech and AI for a while. Been playing around with Chatgpt and midJourney lately. For me I feel like the next 5-10 years will be revolutionary in the tech world and will continue to expand at a blistering pace.
But that brings up the thoughts about us not evolving fast enough with it and the impact it will have one the work force. Already so many jobs are being automated and done by robots. This trend will only increase as corporations continue to put profits above people.
Some would argue AI could help us get to that "Star Trek utopia" but it will certainly have some huge problems for humanity to figure out.
Are there any trends in the workforce people are already thinking about? New jobs that will come up, jobs now that will never be done by a human again?
Are you doing anything to position yourself in a spot to gain instead of loose from the future that is upon us?
This is an edition of The Atlantic Daily, a newsletter that guides you through the biggest stories of the day, helps you discover new ideas, and recommends the best in culture. Sign up for it here.
Computer games, like movies, music, and television, are part of our culture and often reflect our fears and worries—especially about the end of the world. And I've been playing them for years.
But first, here are three new stories from The Atlantic.
- This is not 1943.
- The stubborn pathology of police culture
- Why the U.S. isn't shooting down the Chinese spy balloon
Nuclear War and Zombies
Computer games get a bad rap among those who do not play them. People associate them, at worst, with adolescent violence (despite lack of conclusive evidence for that theory) or, more benignly, with creepy nerds in Mom's basement, yelling into their headsets and jabbing at keyboards while wiping Cheetos dust off their glasses.
Well, I am a happily married 62-year-old professional, and I play computer games. In fact, I have been playing them since the dawn of the personal-computing age. Yes, games are part of the escape from reality that my colleague Megan Garber wrote about in her cover story for the March issue of the magazine, but they're also a perfectly reasonable hobby.
Still, you might ask why a grown man with a busy life—or, you know, any life—would waste precious hours in front of a screen. At the risk of handing a rationalization to students who have not finished their homework, I will say that I not only enjoy the process of playing but also find that games enhance my productivity rather than destroy it. I play computer games for the same reason I play golf: The engrossing requirement to complete a set of objectives clears my mind. When I return from the golf course or close the game program, my brain has been shaken and cleared like an old Etch A Sketch, and I'm ready to work again.
Even pointless games can be relaxing (especially if they're visually pretty), such as the "loot and shoot" adventures in which you kill something and take its money or possessions, over and over again. And sometimes, you just want to roll your army over some hapless Roman commander or drag space bandits through an asteroid field. But my favorites are the games that have intricate plots, because many of them are cultural markers that reveal what fascinates us—and more important, what scares us.
Back in the 1980s, for example, Americans wrestled with fears about World War III. So did games. I have spent my entire career studying war and nuclear weapons, and for me, roaming around in a destroyed world is much like going to horror or disaster movies, or reading fairy tales (which are really scary if you think about most of them): It's a way of processing fear.
Consider Trinity, a 1986 text-based game. (Early computers had no serious graphics capability, so these games instead required you to read quite a bit and then issue commands and solve puzzles.) In Trinity, nuclear war breaks out at the beginning of the game; the player escapes through a portal and must tumble backwards through time all the way to the Trinity nuclear test site in 1945 in order to sabotage the first atomic bomb, thus preventing the nuclear-arms race and the eventual war.
Thematically, this was not exactly a game for children. Nor were the many games that followed it, including the 1988 classic Wasteland, in which the player must lead a team of Desert Rangers through the ruins of the Southwest to discover the source of a new threat that could finish the job of annihilating humanity. These games followed a spate of Cold War movies and music shot through with nuclear anxieties, such as WarGames, Red Dawn, The Day After, and Testament; you could play Trinity or Wasteland while listening to "99 Luftballons," by Nena, or "It's a Mistake," by Men at Work, and spend a cozy afternoon traipsing through Armageddon. (Nuclear war is back: One game studio just released a highly detailed nuclear-conflict simulator, but I haven't played it. Yet.)
As the nuclear threat receded and threats to our health, such as AIDS, began to dominate our fears, pop culture—including games—spoke to those fears. Biohazards became a dominant theme in gaming, with mad scientists and big corporations mucking about with our DNA, weird pathogens, doors to alternate dimensions, or even the gates to hell itself, all in the name of profit, while unleashing freaks and mutants on the rest of us.
The granddaddy of the biohazard-genre games, Resident Evil, was released in 1996 and led to several more games and movies; the first motion picture in the franchise debuted in 2002 and was followed by five more sequels and then a 2021 reboot. Last month, HBO premiered a new series, The Last of Us, based on a highly regarded game of the same name. It is set in a world where a fungus has turned most people into crazed zombies, and so far, like the game, it's a hit.
Amazon is working on a series based on an even bigger end-of-the-world franchise: Fallout, a game that hit the shelves in 1997 and takes place about 100 years after a war with China. (The war was set off by an imperialistic global free-for-all over power and resources; the Americans, in keeping with the game's retro-futuristic, back-to-the-1950s ethos, are super-patriotic McCarthyites who even annexed Canada just to be on the safe side.) Fallout was a kind of successor and homage to Wasteland, with a dark but often laugh-out-loud sense of humor, a fully realized postnuclear Los Angeles populated with fascinating characters, and a story line that, again, was not exactly for children. Fallout became a huge success, spawning multiple game sequels over the next two decades.
I am praying that Amazon doesn't screw this up, because Fallout is my personal gaming obsession. I have played all of the original games multiple times, and as someone who's had to live with the subject of nuclear war as part of my career, I appreciate the underlying melancholy in the Fallout world. Even my wife (who does not play computer games) found herself moved one evening as she peeked in to watch me walk through the ruins of our beloved Boston, where I found skeletons, sometimes side by side and holding hands, in destroyed homes. It's a fun, often hilarious game, but underneath it all is a sadness that should be there if you're thinking about the end of humanity.
It is natural to be fascinated by the ramifications of global catastrophe, but the best games present the player with difficult moral choices and awful, sometimes unavoidable dilemmas. There are many in Fallout and (a big one at the end of The Last of Us). Regardless of our choices, it can be healthy and cathartic to experience the terror and then revel in feeling safe, just like at the end of a slasher movie, when the lights come on and you look around. I'm still here. Everything is still here. It's just a movie. It's just a game.
Let's hope it stays that way.
- Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed his trip to Beijing after a Chinese "intelligence-gathering" balloon was detected floating over the United States.
- The U.S. economy added 517,000 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate dropped to 3.4 percent—a low the country hasn't seen since 1969.
- President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukraine aims to hold on to the eastern city of Bakhmut for as long as it can.
- Work in Progress: The economy is still very, very weird, Derek Thompson writes.
- Books Briefing: Sports offer more than winning, Elise Hannum writes.
Explore all of our newsletters here.
The Slow-Motion Murder of Mikheil Saakashvili
By Anne Applebaum
Sixteen months after his arrest, Mikheil Saakashvili has lost more than 90 pounds and needs a walker to move around his prison hospital. The former Georgian president was for a time, on a hunger strike, which helps explain his weight loss and his exhaustion. But it does not explain the traces of arsenic, mercury, and other toxins that a doctor found in his hair and nail clippings. It does not explain the beatings he has described to his lawyer. It does not explain the constant pain in his left shoulder, neck, and spine.
Nor can anything other than malice—organized, official, state-sponsored malice—explain why Saakashvili is on a strange medical regimen that includes 14 different drugs, some addictive, some not approved for sale in the United States. Or why he has mild brain damage. Or why he has seizures. Giorgi Badridze, a former Georgian ambassador who keeps in constant touch with Saakashvili's family, told me that "nothing has been exaggerated. He is doing really badly." At age 55, Saakashvili is declining rapidly. And as he declines, so do the prospects of a sovereign, democratic Georgia.
More From The Atlantic
- What is it about Pamela Anderson?
- The good news about vaccine hesitancy
- Photos of the week: masquerade games, figure skating, and more
Read. Victory City, Salman Rushdie's new novel, is a triumph.
Or try "Background," a new short story by Elaine Hsieh Chou.
Watch. In theaters, M. Night Shyamalan's Knock at the Cabin pairs a ludicrous horror concept with a healthy dose of tenderness.
On TV, Poker Face with Natasha Lyonne (streaming on Peacock) has a sting in its tail, our critic writes.
And keep your eye out for these 15 great indie films this year.
I'll skip a longer sign-off today and instead suggest that you get your hands on some of the games I mentioned. Fallout aficionados argue over the best game in the series, but I rather love Fallout: New Vegas, and I recommend you start there. (I would avoid the multiplayer Fallout 76, which I think was poorly conceived and violates the spirit of the original games.) New Vegas has a cast that includes Matthew Perry, Kris Kristofferson, Felicia Day, William Sadler, Alex Rocco, Dave Foley, René Auberjonois, and—I am not kidding—Wayne Newton. It's a hell of a story, and you get to hang around in postnuclear casinos and gamble, which is where I'd want to be if someone drops the Big One someday.
Isabel Fattal contributed to this newsletter.
I don't think I'm dumb but I'm worried about discovering the actual limits of my intelligence
I consider my ability to engage academically (thinking and reading) quite ok and it's an area I want to pursue in life but I have this overwhelming sense that I'm stupid.
My intelligence just seems to be something I've cultivated as opposed to something that came naturally to me, and even that intelligence or knowledge etc seems inconsistent.
When neural link gets going, how long will it be before they can implant memories and help you learn a new language or skill or even turn us into zombie workers who don't get bored or question things.
On the other side of the coin how long until it can erase memories so that if you have commited a crime it can erase the memory of it there for you are not guilty and the prison system doesn't need to exist.
Many of us are going to live through world-changing tech advancements in many areas including virtual and altered reality, are we going to lose our minds to fake realities? will it enhance the quality of life or be too much for our fragile brains to handle?
what do you guys think about hyper-real virtual reality and what kind of effect do you think it will have on us when it's mainstream?
**What is your take on using brain wave readers to protect and enhance employee performance**
I just saw a WEF 2023 presentation showing some interesting tech in there, some ear buds and a scarf aimed at monitoring and applying shocks when conditions are met.
Is this the future?
I cannot post a link in here, the other post got taken down, search youtube for WEF 2023 Neurotechnology or see my comment below
Thanks to a keen eye and some good fortune, researchers have stumbled across a brain believed to be over 319 million years old, making it the oldest well-preserved vertebrate brain ever discovered. And what primeval secrets it must contain.
"This is such an exciting and unanticipated find," Sam Giles of the Natural History Museum in London and coauthor of the resulting study published this week in the journal Nature, told CNN.
"It was so unexpected that it took us a while to be certain that it actually was a brain," she continued. "Aside from being just a preservational curiosity, the anatomy of the brain in this fossil has big implications for our understanding of brain evolution in fishes."
The unbelievably ancient brain was found trapped inside the fossilized skull of a coccocephalus wildi, a carboniferous and early form of a ray-finned fish. But the fossil itself is not a new discovery — it was actually unearthed over a century ago in a coal mine in England.
Because the fossil is the only known example of this fish, researchers simply wanted to get a better look using modern and nondestructive computed tomography (CT) scanning.
They found a mysterious, bilaterally symmetrical "unidentified blob" that showed up as a dense object on the CT image. Intriguingly, it also harbored spaces resembling ventricles, filaments, and cranial nerves — and researchers could hardly believe their eyes.
"It had all these features, and I said to myself, 'Is this really a brain that I'm looking at?'" said senior author and University of Michigan paleontologist Matt Friedman in a press release.
Brain to See
After zooming in for a better look, there was no denying that what the team had in possession was a bona fide brain.
The brain structure was preserved through a somewhat common fossilization process that involves minerals forming in place of delicate soft tissue. However, for the minerals to form in such "exquisite detail" is an extraordinary stroke of luck. Giles told CNN that the find is the "oldest three-dimensional fossil brain of anything we know."
And even encased in stone, this encephalon of an epochal eon can impart long-lost knowledge, helping us fill gaps in evolutionary history.
"Not only does this superficially unimpressive and small fossil show us the oldest example of a fossilized vertebrate brain, but it also shows that much of what we thought about brain evolution from living species alone will need reworking," said lead author, a fellow UM paleontologist, in the release.
More on ancient life: In Terrifying News, Big Brained T-Rex May Have Been as Smart as Primates
The post Scientists Discover World's Oldest Preserved Vertebrate Brain appeared first on Futurism.
After roughly a year and a half of really, really pissing off his stakeholders,
-turned-Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally said something to make investors happy.
Bloomberg reports that in a call with investors on Wednesday, the sword-brandishing CEO promised, like pretty much everyone else in Silicon Valley, to make Meta's AI development a priority — a critical factor in his plans for 2023, which he's apparently calling Meta's "Year of Efficiency." Probably a sound goal to pursue, considering that Meta spent 2022 burying $14 billion in the wildly underwhelming digital landscape that is the metaverse, meanwhile laying off entire towns' worth of workers.
"We're working on flattening our org structure and removing some layers of middle management to make decisions faster," Zuckerberg said on the call, according to Bloomberg, "as well as deploying AI tools to help our engineers be more productive."
"There's going to be some more that we can do," he added, "to improve our productivity, speed, and cost structure."
Lo and behold, Meta's stock was up 24 percent by 11 AM the next day — which, per Bloomberg, was the biggest single-day jump that the company has seen in nearly ten years.
'Atta boy, Zucko. Finally telling investors what literally all of them out there seem to want to hear.
Robots for Robots for Robots
Apparently, though, in the wake of Meta's Zuckerberg-hating Blenderbot's chaotic introduction back in August, Zuck reportedly didn't spend the meeting focusing on any shiny new generative AI products. (Just as a quick check-in with Blenderbot, we just asked it if it "liked Facebook," and it answered, "not really, too many people use it for drama and gossiping, so I stay away from it as much as possible." It did, however, say nicer things about its boar-hunting overlord.)
Rather, per Bloomberg, Zucko told investors that, outside of that note about integrating helpful "AI tools" into engineering work, Facebook will be focusing on using AI to improve its content-recommendation algorithms — a move the publication says is focused on making users and advertisers both much happier.
And honestly? A lot of platforms are likely going to need to make some algorithmic changes in the coming months, considering that AI-generated content is about to flood each and every corner of the internet that it can possibly be deployed in — social media included — so glad to see Zuckerberg getting ahead of things. Gotta keep all the content-sifting robots tip-top, since the content-generating robots are only just getting started.
READ MORE: Meta Shares Soar Most Since 2013 on Zuckerberg's Vision [Bloomberg]
More on Meta: Facebook's Metaverse Division Lost Nearly $14 Billion Dollars Last Year
The post Zuckerberg Says Facebook Will Lean Hard Into AI appeared first on Futurism.
World War I is over. Humanity has gone through hell and emerged strung between merry, hectic giddiness and entrenched, unspeakable grief. And Lord Peter Wimsey—scion of the aristocracy; military hero; buoyant connoisseur of wine, rare books, piano music, and women—is on the hunt for his next beguiling case.
I first encountered Wimsey, the most famous creation of the mystery novelist Dorothy L. Sayers—whose first novel, Whose Body?, was published a century ago this year—in January 2022. The unexpected, devastating end of a COVID-era romance had left me feeling everything, even boredom, with frightening intensity. I have always turned to detective stories when I feel vulnerable; there is nothing so relaxing as the promise that even the grisliest problem can, with the correct approach, be neatly solved. A collection of Sayers's stories, Lord Peter: The Complete Lord Peter Wimsey Stories, had sat on my shelf for years; I picked it up. And it, in turn, plucked me out of the sense that I was trapped on some perilous brink. I set off on a year of obsession, first with Wimsey and his fictional cohort, then with the rest of Sayers's oeuvre.
But Sayers's work didn't comfort me in the way I had initially expected, with clever, complete answers to daunting questions. The power of her writing lies instead in the way she turns the classic promise of a mystery novel on its head. Wimsey solves crimes with elegance and enthusiasm, but true resolution eludes him. The deeper mysteries of the people involved—why they've made certain disastrous choices, whether they feel remorse, how their sense of right and wrong got skewed—remain obscure and often, at the end of each investigation, appear even more tangled than before.
This is exactly what soothed me about Sayers's work: She was preoccupied with the question of how, once you realize you will likely never understand those around you, you might still live a meaningful life. I found in her exploration of that quandary a powerful balm: assurance not that all of the challenges I face will be tidily resolved but rather that existence remains rewarding even if they will not be.
[Read: Women are writing the best crime novels]
Sayers, born in Oxford in 1893, came of age at a time when the mystery genre, first popularized in the 19th century, was taking a modern turn—its characters were shaped by war and economic deprivation; its mood was less gas lamps and fog and more fast cars and jazz. That period is now thought of as the genre's golden age. Agatha Christie's first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, came out in 1920. Josephine Tey, the author of The Daughter of Time, published her first stories in the mid-1920s. By the end of the decade, Dashiell Hammett had begun to popularize hard-boiled detective noirs in the United States.
Although Sayers is best known for her crime writing, detective novels were only a small part of her intellectual and creative output. She was one of the first women to be awarded a degree by Oxford University. She was a translator of Dante and an influential thinker about Anglican theology, the rights of women, and the purpose of education. (She was also at best impolitic about people who weren't white Christians, especially Jews. "Semitic-looking" men in the money trades regularly crop up in her work; in Whose Body?, one character offers the regrettable opinion, "I'm sure some Jews are very good people.")
Above all, Sayers was interested in what she called "the exasperating mysteriousness of human beings." She wrote with a unique appreciation for the fragility of postwar society, and for the members of that society who found it particularly difficult to navigate a world turned nearly unrecognizable.
Her novels—whodunnits set in Wimsey's cosmopolitan London, the remote Scottish countryside, or the fraught academic Eden of Oxford—teem with people who are unbearably, sometimes catastrophically, sensitive to how the world disappoints them. A worker at a coastal hotel, preoccupied with the grand adventures of the characters in his cheap romance novels, easily believes schemers who try to convince him that he is a Russian royal. A Scottish painter picks constant fights with his peers in part because his human interactions feel like no match for the natural beauty he finds in rocks, rivers, and trees. The detective novelist Harriet Vane, Sayers's other most famous character and Wimsey's eventual wife, avoids seeking love, fearing that a relationship will subsume her individuality.
Across Sayers's fiction, characters look for ways to mitigate life's miseries. As for Wimsey, he searches for relief in his work. He is a detective fit for Sayers's times, and for ours: a man striving for order in an incomprehensible world. But he never closes his cases with real satisfaction. Instead, he leaves them feeling that humanity is even more complex and maddening than he previously understood, and that justice has been imperfectly allotted.
[Read: The dark reality behind 'cozy mysteries']
The paradox that Wimsey finds in his mysteries—although they make his life more complicated, he can't help seeking them out—is perhaps most evident in The Nine Tailors, which is widely considered to be one of Sayers's best works. In it, Wimsey solves certain mysteries surrounding the appearance of an anonymous, brutalized body found in England's eastern fens—whose it was, when and why he died, how he ended up in someone else's freshly dug grave—but struggles to answer the question of how, precisely, he was killed. Toward the end of the novel, the local drainage system collapses during a mighty storm. The disaster takes lives, ruins homes, and sets a hardship-ridden village up for an especially bad year. But it also shows Wimsey the improbable answer to his question. After the storm, he looks out at the flooded fens. They are beautiful, a mirror to the calmed sky.
It's no accident that the flood reads as biblical. The work of mystery-solving is in some ways akin to the work of religion. Both provide a method for viewing the violence of life with more curiosity than fear. Sayers, a detective novelist and a theologian, understood that such a framework is essential to finding meaning, even if it's illusory. There is no logic to the moments of clarity in her work. But with every new case comes the hope that this time, there might be—that resolution is, in fact, possible. This hope, no matter how often it goes unfulfilled, makes Wimsey's work worthwhile.
That is what I learned from my year with Sayers. It is good to seek, even if you know that you are unlikely to find. In looking clearly at the gruesome truth of the world, you see, also, its beauty.
The Chinese spy balloon observed over Montana is not a new departure. It is a provocative measure because countries claim more rights over the lower atmosphere above their territory than they do over the space beyond that. But the balloon's presence is not exactly a step on the road to World War III. In fact, this type of surveillance is much more likely to prevent, rather than provoke, conflict.
The Chinese operate the second-most-sophisticated satellite program on Earth, next only to that of the United States. As of last September, some 562 Chinese satellites were orbiting the Earth. Not all of these are surveillance systems, but many are. They send home information on U.S. military capabilities and on the American economy—the status of grain crops, for example. They are probably intercepting a lot of U.S. data traffic too; and the latest models are thought to have radar-based systems that can collect images through cloud cover and at night.
For nearly three-quarters of a century, U.S. policy has been to welcome mutual aerial surveillance as a way to keep the peace. Back in 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower made the first proposal for an "Open Skies" international accord on such inspection systems. At the time, the Soviets rejected the offer, but the concept was revived after the Cold War and blossomed into a multination agreement signed in 1992. The Treaty on Open Skies licensed signatories to conduct a certain number of overflights each year in order to build confidence in one another's peaceful intentions. Donald Trump's administration proceeded to cancel U.S. participation in the agreement after his defeat in the election of November 2020.
[Juliette Kayyem: Why the U.S. isn't shooting down the Chinese spy balloon]
The Trump administration generally took a hostile attitude toward the sharing of information among potential adversaries. From January 2017 to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, it reduced the number of CDC personnel inside China from 47 to 14. It also shut the Beijing offices of the National Science Foundation and the Agency for International Development.
China never signed up to the Open Skies Treaty. An authoritarian state that is becoming more so by the year, China thinks it enhances its security by concealing as much information as possible from the outside world. The U.S. nevertheless runs information-gathering missions off the coast of China—and rightly took offense when China forced down a U.S. Navy surveillance plane and detained its crew in April 2001.
Every government must protect some secrets. But Eisenhower's wisdom is worth recalling: Mutual surveillance is mutually reassuring.
After the Soviet rejection of Open Skies, the United States proceeded with its own surveillance program. U-2 planes flew 13 miles above the ground, taking photographs of such high definition that they could reveal airstrip markings six inches wide. In May 1960, the Soviets shot down a U-2 plane and captured the pilot, Francis Gary Powers. A diplomatic uproar followed.
[Read: Why the U.S. still flies Cold War–era planes]
But along with the uproar came something else. Through the late 1950s, the bombastic Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had often threatened nuclear-missile strikes against the West. His bluster had frightened many, but never Eisenhower. The U-2 program confirmed to Eisenhower that Khrushchev was wildly exaggerating Soviet capabilities. In fact, the Soviet missile program lagged far behind that of the United States. Eisenhower's famous valedictory "military-industrial complex" speech in January 1961 rested in part on the cool, calm assessment of the Soviet threat that he had gained from surveillance programs like the one based on U-2 flights:
Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.
Rarely do good surprises occur between adversarial nations. Communicating more, rather than less, is far safer. Let the Chinese balloon alone—the message it can send home is that, for the sake of peace, a return to open skies is in everyone's interest.
Montana balloon crisis sounds a lot less dramatic than its Cuban-missile counterpart, and not just because the Chinese surveillance balloon spotted over Big Sky Country last night is inherently less threatening than Soviet weaponry just off the coast of Florida in 1962. This situation isn't a crisis. It isn't even close. Although the U.S. government had to acknowledge the presence of the balloon because regular citizens were posting pictures online, the Biden administration's best option wasn't to panic and respond with what the military calls a "kinetic action"—or what normal people call shooting the sucker out of the sky. It was to play for time.
The revelation immediately produced a chorus of armchair analysts and GOP politicians insisting that President Joe Biden was weak in the face of a clearly aggressive action by the Chinese. Some insisted that former President Donald Trump would never have allowed such a violation of American borders. Many commentators wanted the U.S. to do something—anything.
I'm no military expert, but I understand gravity. A surveillance balloon isn't really a balloon; it likely has metal frames and carries electronic gear, and contains gases and other chemicals. These potentially dangerous materials will not reliably burn up when entering the Earth's atmosphere, because they are already in the Earth's atmosphere. Although the balloon lingers somewhere above where passenger jets normally fly, it is in American airspace—which is to say, the American homeland.
Homeland-security threats demand different responses than national-security threats. Blowing up an adversary's airborne surveillance equipment over Montana, or even scrambling to capture it, involves different logistical and legal calculations than doing so in an active theater of war. Montana residents probably wouldn't appreciate stuff spilling from the sky. Falling debris could maim or even kill Americans on the ground. Personal and property damage would occur. Kinetic action in a situation like this has a cost borne not by another country or its citizens, but by ours.
[From the September 2020 issue: The panopticon is already here]
The balloon's specific surveillance capabilities are unknown, and the Chinese government denies that it is collecting intelligence. That assurance seems highly dubious. But even if Beijing is gathering information it couldn't otherwise get from satellites—balloons, after all, can hover over particular facilities, perhaps including nuclear-missile launch sites in Montana—the U.S. goal is to make China stop doing that while avoiding harm to Americans. We don't have to jump into action immediately because China has provoked us—or because Biden's domestic critics claim that China has provoked us. The balloon is not a nuisance to either commercial airlines or U.S. military capabilities. Protections on the ground can deny the Chinese surveillance access to whatever it is they are interested in.
We have time. One definition of crisis is a disruption that affords little time to respond before it turns into a disaster. Emergency management, then, presents two basic choices: Either prevent the disruption or buy yourself more time to minimize its consequences. The standard jargon for the latter approach—"extend the runway"—is conceptually helpful.
In this case, two things appear to be true: The balloon is not an immediate threat, and the balloon cannot remain over our skies indefinitely. A lack of clarity about how the U.S. plans to resolve those two propositions, including by shooting the balloon down at a later point, isn't necessarily harmful. By exposing the balloon's existence, the administration has put pressure on China to de-escalate the issue. This morning, Beijing said in a somewhat conciliatory statement that it "regrets the unintended entry of the airship into U.S. airspace." Secretary of State Antony Blinken has now postponed his expected visit to China next week. The State Department knows how to use language. Tellingly, he did not cancel his visit, but merely delayed it. The runway got a little longer.
After two years of virtual screenings, the Sundance Film Festival debuted a hybrid event for the first time, welcoming both in-person and online attendees to enjoy a fresh helping of titles. As ever, the festival, which The Atlantic tuned in to from home, set the stage for the year to come in indie movies: Veteran directors debuted their latest work, newcomers hit the ground with impressive ideas, and distributors entered a frenzy of dealmaking with hopes of scoring the next CODA, Minari, or Promising Young Woman—just to name a few recent Sundance premieres that went on to become major awards contenders. The festival yielded plenty of noteworthy features; below are our favorites from 10 days of pressing "Play."
The first fiction feature from the Oscar-winning documentarian Roger Ross Williams, Cassandro is a zesty peek into a world that might be unfamiliar to many: the luchadores of Mexican wrestling. Gael García Bernal plays Saúl Armendáriz, a real-life figure who helped transform the sport in the 1980s and '90s. His onstage character, Cassandro, was flamboyant and wore drag, a persona known as an exótico in the scripted world of wrestling. Exóticos usually lose their fights, but Armendáriz turned Cassandro into a beloved champion. Bernal gives one of his richest performances ever, lending energy to the biopic, a genre that can often feel staid and repetitive. — David Sims
Fremont (no distribution set)
Babak Jalali's film has more than a touch of Jim Jarmusch to it, especially in its handsomely grainy black-and-white photography and its gentle, slice-of-life plotting. It follows Donya (played by first-time actor Anaita Wali Zada), an Afghan immigrant living in the Oakland suburb of Fremont and writing fortune-cookie mottos for a San Francisco factory. The leisurely movie is focused mostly on Donya's therapy sessions with a ruminative psychiatrist (an excellent Gregg Turkington) and her search for further companionship. But Fremont also goes in some surprising directions, and includes a brief but memorable appearance from The Bear's Jeremy Allen White as a potential new friend. — D.S.
Mutt (no distribution set)
This intense and tender debut film, which draws from the background of its own Chilean, Serbian, and trans director, Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, is one of my favorite kinds of indie dramas. Set during one wild day in New York City, Mutt has a terrific sense of location, a crackling contemporary authenticity, and a real fun feel, even as it digs into the complex interpersonal dramas surrounding a 20-something trans man named Feña (Lio Mehiel). He's dealing with the return of an ex-boyfriend, the arrival of his father in town, and the emotional turmoil of his teenaged half-sister, who is skipping school. The film bounces from one plot to another with zippy aplomb, delving into its protagonist's inner conflicts without any preachiness. Mehiel's performance was a highlight of the festival. — D.S.
Ira Sachs, one of the most exciting indie filmmakers working (his career gems include Little Men and Love Is Strange), had a bit of a misstep with his sedate last feature, Frankie. But the spiky romantic drama Passages is a welcome return to form, led by three marvelous performances and a refreshingly direct depiction of sexuality on-screen. Passages follows Tomas (Franz Rogowski), a gay filmmaker in a long-term relationship with Martin (Ben Whishaw), who finds himself drawn to a woman named Agathe (Adèle Exarchopoulos), creating a bizarre love triangle that nobody really wants to be a part of. Rogowski invests Tomas with compelling toxicity; there's something undeniably magnetic about him, even as, more and more, he emotionally wrecks the people in his life. Passages is not a movie for anyone looking for a sympathetic protagonist, but it is a brutally funny and honest portrayal of soured love. — D.S.
Talk to Me (A24)
One of the big acquisitions at the festival was this gnarly Australian horror, which the indie-fright experts at A24 will release in theaters this year. Talk to Me is a sterling entry in the séance-gone-wrong subgenre, portraying a group of wayward friends who find a spooky embalmed hand and start using it to contact the dead. Some of the early set pieces of possession from beyond the grave have an anarchic-prankster element—think Ouija meets Jackass—but as things spin out of control, the visuals get impressively gory and intense, rendered with nasty glee by the brothers Danny and Michael Philippou (making their feature debut). — D.S.
Theater Camp (Searchlight Pictures)
Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman's comedy was a charming surprise at the festival and has already been picked up by Searchlight for a theatrical release. It had all the risk factors for a grating mess, given that the main characters are adult camp counselors who have never outgrown their childhood sanctuary, a scrappy arts center called AdirondACTS. Gordon and Ben Platt play Rebecca-Diane and Amos, who spend their time sniping at the teenagers in their charge. The ensemble is filled with firecracker comic performances from Jimmy Tatro, Ayo Edebiri, Patti Harrison, and others. Theater Camp works because it manages to balance caustic one-liners with just the right amount of heart, injecting a little sentimentality into a largely scathing satire. — D.S.
A Thousand and One (Focus Features)
The winner of this year's Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition category, A. V. Rockwell's feature debut is a novelistic wonder anchored by a fantastic lead performance from Teyana Taylor (who is probably best known as a skilled singer, dancer, and choreographer). Taylor plays Inez, a Harlem mother who abducts her son from the foster-care system after she's released from prison. The film then follows their relationship through his entire adolescence, spanning almost two decades as Inez tries to hold her family together without running further afoul of the law. Rockwell's script methodically builds to a heart-wrenching climax, but Taylor's deep grasp of Inez's strengths and flaws is what gives the story its power. — D.S.
You Hurt My Feelings (A24)
Nicole Holofcener is maybe cinema's reigning master of the comedy of manners, but she hasn't had a real hit in a few years—her last film, the Netflix release The Land of Steady Habits, was a rare misfire. You Hurt My Feelings puts her right back in her comfort zone, with a satire of the chattering classes that zeroes in on the tiny, unspoken slights that can ruin entire relationships. Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a novelist who's wracked with self-doubt over her latest project; her husband, Don (Tobias Menzies), is a therapist wondering if he's actually any good at what he does. Through a series of funny misunderstandings, those insecurities fester and spill over catastrophically, and Holofcener depicts all the fallout with her typical witty deftness. — D.S.
All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (A24)
The writer-director Raven Jackson's debut feature, co-produced by Barry Jenkins, is more of a poetic collage than a straightforward movie. Though All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt traces a coming-of-age, Jackson is not concerned with delivering a linear story; instead, she carefully and steadily trains her lens on what her subject, a Black woman living in rural Mississippi, observes: fingertips tenderly brushing an ex-lover's back; crickets chirping on a humid summer afternoon; mud squishing underneath people's feet. I yearned at first for a more conventional narrative, but the film—with its gorgeous imagery and soundscape—had me spellbound before long. It's an immersive meditation on how a lifetime is made up of so many small memories—and a reminder to pay more attention to every feeling. — Shirley Li
Drift (no distribution set)
For the first 15 minutes of Drift, the film's protagonist, Jacqueline (played by Cynthia Erivo), doesn't utter a word. She's stranded and roaming on a Greek island, offering foot massages for euros while dodging the authorities. But what seems like a portrait of a mysterious woman turns into a touching exploration of care and friendship when Jacqueline meets Callie (Alia Shawkat), a tour guide with her own reasons for wandering the Mediterranean coast alone. In his first English-language film, the Singaporean director Anthony Chen draws a pair of quietly stirring performances from his leads. Even as the plot risks becoming a touch too melodramatic, Erivo and Shawkat keep the story grounded, capturing how a single connection can transform a life of grief. — S.L.
Eileen (no distribution set)
Adapted from Ottessa Moshfegh's debut novel, Eileen is dark and unpredictable, seductive and sharp. In 1960s Boston, meek Eileen (Thomasin McKenzie) longs for a more exciting life than the one she has as a secretary who also babysits her alcoholic father. When the glamorous psychologist Rebecca (Anne Hathaway, at perhaps her career best) swans in, Eileen is immediately infatuated—but Eileen is no Carol, even though the director William Oldroyd sneakily unspools the story like a romance, with glances across crowded rooms and close-ups of illicit touches. Oldroyd has a knack for telling tales of young women with disturbing wants, and he knows what the audience likely craves from Eileen: more confidence, more guts—the typical ingredients to self-discovery. All the more fun, then, that Eileen becomes something decidedly different. Desire, the film warns convincingly, is a dangerous thing. — S.L.
Magazine Dreams (no distribution set)
I'd be surprised if Jonathan Majors isn't a part of the awards conversation this time next year. His performance as the tortured bodybuilder Killian Maddox is tremendous, even as Magazine Dreams evolves from a compelling character study into a painful viewing experience. Written and directed by Elijah Bynum, the film has an unsubtle story; in the tradition of films such as Taxi Driver and Joker, it tracks how a lonely, socially inept man grows violent by trying to mold the world to his vision. But though every second of Killian's self-destruction comes with cinematic flair—one long, mesmerizing take follows him barreling onto a competition stage right after getting beat up—Majors finds the character's vulnerability too. Killian's intimidating physicality belies a fragile ego and a splintering state of mind. Majors infuses him with humanity, making it impossible to root against his potential salvation. — S.L.
Polite Society (Focus Features)
If Jane Austen, Edgar Wright, Tina Fey, and Jordan Peele collaborated on a movie together, the result would be something like Polite Society—and that's not including the Bollywood-influenced dance number or the many martial-arts showdowns that pepper the film. The pleasure of watching the writer-director Nida Manzoor's zany, if somewhat bloated, debut comes from not knowing what genre she might possibly riff on in the next scene. The story follows a London teenager and wannabe stuntwoman named Ria (played winningly by Priya Kansara) as she tries to break apart her beloved sister's engagement, which Ria finds surprising and therefore, you know, totally dodgy. Her well-intentioned quest quickly becomes chaotic, and Manzoor suffuses every moment with heightened silliness and lively tricks. Like a reverse spin kick done in midair, Polite Society is audacious, awesome, and hard to ignore. — S.L.
Rye Lane (Searchlight Pictures)
Call it a "weep-cute": When Yas (Vivian Oparah) overhears Dom (Industry's David Jonsson) sobbing in the bathroom after being dumped, she initiates a conversation that turns into a walk-and-talk through South London and—what else?—a budding romance. But Rye Lane isn't just another entry into an embattled genre; the film offers a refreshing take on the risks that come with falling for someone new. Directed with fizzy energy by Raine Allen-Miller, the film stylishly tracks how Yas and Dom, both reeling from recent breakups, navigate heartache while keeping an eye on each other. The script is lighthearted and astute at the same time, flowing easily from flirtatious banter to guarded-but-revealing exchanges. Plus, there's an A-list cameo for the ages about halfway through. — S.L.
Sometimes I Think About Dying (no distribution set)
Don't feel sorry for Fran, the quiet office worker played by Daisy Ridley. She likes her life just the way it is, even if, every now and then, she imagines her own demise to pass the time. Despite what the title may imply, the director Rachel Lambert's wonderfully restrained film is more quirky than gloomy—and rather unexpectedly sweet. Ridley is excellent as an introvert with a penchant for cottage cheese, and she's well matched by the comedian Dave Merheje as Robert, a new employee with whom she timidly pursues a relationship. Sometimes may be the funniest film I screened this year at Sundance; it's a droll and perceptive look at how we tend to treat one another with more kindness than we do ourselves. To Fran, the mundane can be sublime, even beautiful. She just needs a push to see the same in herself. — S.L.
Senator Dianne Feinstein hasn't yet announced whether she's retiring, but the race to replace her has already begun. The 2024 contest will be the first wide-open Democratic Senate primary in California since 1992, when Feinstein, who is now 89 years old, was first elected to the seat.
The field is quickly getting crowded: U.S. Representatives Adam Schiff and Katie Porter have announced their candidacies, and Barbara Lee is expected to join them. The state's Democratic strategists aren't ruling out other contenders eventually jumping in as well, although most expect Feinstein to retire rather than run again.
As it stands, the contest will offer voters a choice between three distinct eras of Democratic thinking: Porter, 49, embodies the pugnacious anti-corporate populism associated with Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren; Schiff, 62, is a more mainstream liberal, shaped by Clinton-era centrism; and Lee, 76, is an uncompromising leftist and living link to the most confrontational elements of the 1960s social movements.
With or without Feinstein in the race, a Democrat is almost guaranteed to win the Senate seat in 2024. California hasn't elected a Republican senator since Pete Wilson in 1988, and Carly Fiorina in 2010 has been the only GOP Senate nominee in this century to reach 40 percent of the statewide vote.
California Democrats haven't seen a Senate primary as energetic as the one now developing since 1992, when the party actually battled through two of them. Not only did Feinstein win the nomination for Wilson's Senate seat, which he'd vacated after beating her for governor in 1990, but Barbara Boxer, then a U.S. representative, beat two Democratic men to win the nomination for the Senate seat left open by the retirement of Alan Cranston. Both Feinstein and Boxer then won in November—and served together for nearly the next quarter century.
This time, the three principal contenders are separated along lines of gender, ideology, and geography. Female candidates have often had an advantage in California Democratic primaries because, as in other states, women account for close to 60 percent of Democratic voters. Given that Governor Gavin Newsom appointed a man (California's then–secretary of state, Alex Padilla) to replace Kamala Harris in the Senate after she was elected vice president, some Democratic operatives believe that some voters of both genders may prefer to maintain at least one woman senator.
"Would the California Democratic electorate buy replacing two women with two males? I hate to put it that crassly, but that is going to be a factor," Garry South, a Democratic consultant, told me. But if Lee joins Porter in the race, voters who want to elect a woman may split between them, diluting any advantage.
[Read: The Democrats' new spokesman in the culture wars]
The same split might recur on ideology. Porter's supporters already are working to portray her as a more committed progressive than Schiff. Adam Green, a co-founder of the Progressive Campaign Change Committee, which has endorsed Porter, told me there is a difference between the two not only on ideology but also in boldness.
Many Democrats would share Green's basic assessment. Schiff, a former assistant U.S. attorney, was first elected in 2000 as part of the backlash against the House GOP's impeachment of Bill Clinton. Following the September 11, 2001, attacks, Schiff voted both for the PATRIOT Act and to authorize the Iraq War. Over time, he migrated more into the liberal mainstream, and since Democrats recaptured the House majority in 2018, virtually every member of the House Democratic caucus has voted for all of the party's key initiatives. That means there's little space between Porter's voting record and Schiff's. "It would be hard to get a piece of paper between them on most major issues," South told me.
Porter, a former law professor, still clearly embodies another strain of Democratic energy. Influenced by Warren, whom she studied under at Harvard Law School, Porter has become famous for dismantling hostile witnesses during congressional hearings while scribbling furiously on a whiteboard. Porter is a more logical fit for the activists and voters seeking a crusading progressive champion than Schiff, whose style is more cerebral and contained. (It's telling that Warren has already endorsed Porter, while former Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she'll back Schiff if Feinstein, as expected, doesn't run.)
But for Porter, efforts to frame Schiff as insufficiently liberal, even implicitly, will be complicated by his prominent roles in Donald Trump's first impeachment trial and on the January 6 committee. For many voters, those credentials are likely enough to establish his liberal bona fides.
And Lee may further hinder Porter's ability to consolidate liberal voters. A former chair of the House Progressive Caucus, Lee was the only House or Senate member in either party to vote against the use of force in Afghanistan immediately after the 9/11 attacks. She also voted against the Iraq War authorization, which Schiff supported. Her unbending liberal profile will inevitably attract some voters on the left.
The final line separating the three contenders previously has been the most decisive: geography. Both Porter, who represents a seat in Orange County, and Schiff, who holds a district in Los Angeles, are based in Southern California, while Lee represents a district centered on Oakland and Berkeley. There's a long history of candidates from Northern California beating those from the south in statewide Democratic primaries: Boxer, Feinstein, Harris, and Newsom all defeated opponents from Southern California.
"Northern Californians have had a tendency to be very loyal to their candidates," Mel Levine, a former Democratic representative from Los Angeles who lost the 1992 Senate primary to Boxer, told me. But many observers doubt that Lee can consolidate support in the Bay Area nearly as much as those predecessors. That's partly because of her militant politics and her age but also because she hasn't had to advertise much over the years to win her reliably Democratic district, which has limited her name recognition.
[David A. Graham: Dianne Feinstein is the future of the Senate]
Exactly how much voters know about Porter and Schiff is uncertain, too. Traditionally, House members are largely invisible to California voters. Schiff and Porter have assets that were unavailable to earlier generations of congressional representatives: Both are superstars on MSNBC and CNN and have built robust online grassroots fundraising networks. But many California strategists doubt that their national exposure will translate into anything more than the most cursory awareness among voters in the state.
While California voters "paid attention to the Trump impeachment, were they watching Adam Schiff on the floor? Probably not," Rose Kapolczynski, a California Democratic consultant, told me. "Have they been watching Katie Porter and her whiteboard in hearings? Probably not. All the candidates are going to need to expand beyond the MSNBC/Democratic Twitter base to reach those millions of voters who are not paying attention now and probably won't be paying attention until next year."
As they run against one another next spring, the Democratic contenders also must keep an eye on the November election. Since 2012, California has selected its Senate nominees in an open primary, which puts all the candidates on a single ballot, with the top two finishers advancing to the general election in November. If two Democrats emerge from the primary, the general election could be decided by the millions of Republican voters who then would be forced to choose between them.
Most California experts I spoke with give Schiff a slight edge (among other things, he has much more money in the bank than his competitors), but all expect a dynamic, and unpredictable, contest. What's virtually certain is that the race will end with a new Democratic senator likely to quickly emerge as a rising star in the party. For years, many Democrats have grumbled about Feinstein's eroding physical and mental capacity and reluctance to confront Republicans. Whatever else happens along the way, there's little chance anyone will say the same about California's next senator.
A few weeks ago, a three-inch square of plastic and metal began, slowly and steadily, to upend my life.
The culprit was my new portable carbon-dioxide monitor, a device that had been sitting in my Amazon cart for months. I'd first eyed the product around the height of the coronavirus pandemic, figuring it could help me identify unventilated public spaces where exhaled breath was left to linger and the risk for virus transmission was high. But I didn't shell out the $250 until January 2023, when a different set of worries, over the health risks of gas stoves and indoor air pollution, reached a boiling point. It was as good a time as any to get savvy to the air in my home.
I knew from the get-go that the small, stuffy apartment in which I work remotely was bound to be an air-quality disaster. But with the help of my shiny Aranet4, the brand most indoor-air experts seem to swear by, I was sure to fix the place up. When carbon-dioxide levels increased, I'd crack a window; when I cooked on my gas stove, I'd run the range fan. What could be easier? It would basically be like living outside, with better Wi-Fi. This year, spring cleaning would be a literal breeze!
The illusion was shattered minutes after I popped the batteries into my new device. At baseline, the levels in my apartment were already dancing around 1,200 parts per million (ppm)—a concentration that, as the device's user manual informed me, was cutting my brain's cognitive function by 15 percent. Aghast, I flung open a window, letting in a blast of frigid New England air. Two hours later, as I shivered in my 48-degree-Fahrenheit apartment in a coat, ski pants, and wool socks, typing numbly on my icy keyboard, the Aranet still hadn't budged below 1,000 ppm, a common safety threshold for many experts. By the evening, I'd given up on trying to hypothermia my way to clean air. But as I tried to sleep in the suffocating trap of noxious gas that I had once called my home, next to the reeking sack of respiring flesh I had once called my spouse, the Aranet let loose an ominous beep: The ppm had climbed back up, this time to above 1,400. My cognitive capacity was now down 50 percent, per the user manual, on account of self-poisoning with stagnant air.
By the next morning, I was in despair. This was not the reality I had imagined when I decided to invite the Aranet4 into my home. I had envisioned the device and myself as a team with a shared goal: clean, clean air for all! But it was becoming clear that I didn't have the power to make the device happy. And that was making me miserable.
CO2 monitors are not designed to dictate behavior; the information they dole out is not a perfect read on air quality, indoors or out. And although carbon dioxide can pose some health risks at high levels, it's just one of many pollutants in the air, and by no means the worst. Others, such as nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and ozone, can cause more direct harm. Some CO2-tracking devices, including the Aranet4, don't account for particulate matter—which means that they can't tell when air's been cleaned up by, say, a HEPA filter. "It gives you an indicator; it's not the whole story," says Linsey Marr, an environmental engineer at Virginia Tech.
Still, because CO2 builds up alongside other pollutants, the levels are "a pretty good proxy for how fresh or stale your air is," and how badly it needs to be turned over, says Paula Olsiewski, a biochemist and an indoor-air-quality expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. The Aranet4 isn't as accurate as, say, the $20,000 research-grade carbon-dioxide sensor in Marr's lab, but it can get surprisingly close. When Jose-Luis Jimenez, an atmospheric chemist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, first picked one up three years ago, he was shocked that it could hold its own against the machines he used professionally. And in his personal life, "it allows you to find the terrible places and avoid them," he told me, or to mask up when you can't.
That rule of thumb starts to break down, though, when the terrible place turns out to be your home—or, at the very least, mine. To be fair, my apartment's air quality has a lot working against it: two humans and two cats, all of us with an annoying penchant for breathing, crammed into 1,000 square feet; a gas stove with no outside-venting hood; a kitchen window that opens directly above a parking lot. Even so, I was flabbergasted by just how difficult it was to bring down the CO2 levels around me. Over several weeks, the best indoor reading I sustained, after keeping my window open for six hours, abstaining from cooking, and running my range fan nonstop, was in the 800s. I wondered, briefly, if my neighborhood just had terrible outdoor air quality—or if my device was broken. Within minutes of my bringing the meter outside, however, it displayed a chill 480.
[Read: The plan to stop every respiratory virus at once]
The meter's cruel readings began to haunt me. Each upward tick raised my anxiety; I started to dread what I'd learn each morning when I woke up. After watching the Aranet4 flash figures in the high 2,000s when I briefly ignited my gas stove, I miserably deleted 10 wok-stir-fry recipes I'd bookmarked the month before. At least once, I told my husband to cool it with the whole "needing oxygen" thing, lest I upgrade to a more climate-friendly Plant Spouse. (I'm pretty sure I was joking, but I lacked the cognitive capacity to tell.) In more lucid moments, I understood the deeper meaning of the monitor: It was a symbol of my helplessness. I'd known I couldn't personally clean the air at my favorite restaurant, or the post office, or my local Trader Joe's. Now I realized that the issues in my home weren't much more fixable. The device offered evidence of a problem, but not the means to solve it.
Upon hearing my predicament, Sally Ng, an aerosol chemist at Georgia Tech, suggested that I share my concerns with building management. Marr recommended constructing a Corsi-Rosenthal box, a DIY contraption made up of a fan lashed to filters, to suck the schmutz out of my crummy air. But they and other experts acknowledged that the most sustainable, efficient solutions to my carbon conundrum were mostly out of reach. If you don't own your home, or have the means to outfit it with more air-quality-friendly appliances, you can only do so much. "And I mean, yeah, that is a problem," said Jimenez, who's currently renovating his home to include a new energy-efficient ventilation device, a make-up-air system, and multiple heat pumps.
Many Americans face much greater challenges than mine. I am not among the millions living in a city with dangerous levels of particulate matter in the air, spewed out by industrial plants, gas-powered vehicles, and wildfires, for whom an open window could risk additional peril; I don't have to be in a crowded office or a school with poor ventilation. Since the first year of the pandemic—and even before—experts have been calling for policy changes and infrastructural overhauls that would slash indoor air pollution for large sectors of the population at once. But as concern over COVID has faded, "people have moved on," Marr told me. Individuals are left on their own in the largely futile fight against stale air.
[Read: Put your face in airplane mode]
Though a CO2 monitor won't score anyone victories on its own, it can still be informative: "It's nice to have an objective measure, because all of this is stuff you can't really see with the naked eye," says Abraar Karan, an infectious-disease physician at Stanford, who's planning to use the Aranet4 in an upcoming study on viral transmission. But he told me that he doesn't let himself get too worked up over the readings from his monitor at home. Even Olsiewski puts hers away when she's cooking on the gas range in her Manhattan apartment. She already knows that the levels will spike; she already knows what she needs to do to mitigate the harms. "I use the tools I have and don't make myself crazy," she told me. (Admittedly, she has a lot of tools, especially in her second home in Texas—among them, an induction stove and an HVAC with ultra-high-quality filters and a continuously running fan. When we spoke on the phone, her Aranet4 read 570 ppm; mine, 1,200.)
I'm now aiming for my own middle ground. Earlier this week, I dreamed of trying and failing to open a stuck window, and woke up in a cold sweat. I spent that day working with my (real-life) kitchen window cracked, but I shut it when the apartment got too chilly. More important, I placed my Aranet4 in a drawer, and didn't pull it out again until nightfall. When my spouse came home, he marveled that our apartment, once again, felt warm.
A driverless GM Cruise car plowed into an active firefighting scene in San Francisco last month, and didn't come to a halt until firefighters smashed its front window, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
It's yet another hair-raising incident that highlights the dangers of letting autonomous vehicles roam free in a crowded urban environment.
City officials are now warning that incidents like this one "could increase very significantly" in the city, according to the report, if Cruise and its competitors like Waymo are allowed to expand their services in the city.
It's already a growing problem. According to a January 25 letter sent to California Public Utilities Commission by the city's transportation authority, there were at least "92 unique incidents reported to the City between May 29, and December 31, 2022," involving Cruise autonomous vehicles.
Other incidents involved Cruise vehicles blocking intersections, bus lanes, and light-rail tracks, according to the Chronicle, as well as several near misses that could've easily ended in a collision.
State regulators are currently considering whether Cruise is allowed to start charging for rides in San Francisco without any geolocation restrictions. As of right now, the General Motors-owned company can charge fares in roughly a third of the city's streets between 10 am and 6 pm.
Competitor Waymo also received permission last year to start testing driverless cars in the Bay Area city and is applying for permits to charge fares as well.
Despite the dozens of incidents, Cruise claims it has a proven safety record after covering "millions of miles in an extremely complex urban environment with zero life-threatening injuries or fatalities," as one spokesperson told the Chronicle.
Officials, however, faced with a growing problem, are worried about future incidents, that not only could disrupt bus and rail services, but pose a real risk to residents as well.
READ MORE: Self-driving cars are causing mayhem on S.F. streets, officials say. Will their expansion be restricted? [San Francisco Chronicle]
More on Cruise: Feds Reportedly Investigating Driverless Taxis After They Wreak Havoc in San Francisco
The post Self-Driving Car Plowed Into Active Fire Scene, Forcing Firefighters to Smash Its Window appeared first on Futurism.
A 319-million-year-old fossilized fish skull holds the oldest example of a well-preserved vertebrate brain.
Scientists pulled the skull from a coal mine in England more than a century ago. The brain and its cranial nerves are roughly an inch long and belong to an extinct bluegill-size fish. The discovery opens a window into the neural anatomy and early evolution of the major group of fishes alive today, the ray-finned fishes, according to the study in Nature.
The serendipitous find also provides insights into the preservation of soft parts in fossils of backboned animals. Most of the animal fossils in museum collections were formed from hard body parts such as bones, teeth, and shells.
The CT-scanned brain analyzed for the new study belongs to Coccocephalus wildi, an early ray-finned fish that swam in an estuary and likely dined on small crustaceans, aquatic insects, and cephalopods, a group that today includes squid, octopuses, and cuttlefish. Ray-finned fishes have backbones and fins supported by bony rods called rays.
When the fish died, the soft tissues of its brain and cranial nerves were replaced during the fossilization process with a dense mineral that preserved, in exquisite detail, their three-dimensional structure.
"An important conclusion is that these kinds of soft parts can be preserved, and they may be preserved in fossils that we've had for a long time—this is a fossil that's been known for over 100 years," says senior author Matt Friedman, a paleontologist and director of the Museum of Paleontology at the University of Michigan.
Is this really a brain?
"Not only does this superficially unimpressive and small fossil show us the oldest example of a fossilized vertebrate brain, but it also shows that much of what we thought about brain evolution from living species alone will need reworking," says lead author Rodrigo Figueroa, a doctoral student who did the work as part of his dissertation, under Friedman, in the earth and environmental sciences department.
"With the widespread availability of modern imaging techniques, I would not be surprised if we find that fossil brains and other soft parts are much more common than we previously thought. From now on, our research group and others will look at fossil fish heads with a new and different perspective."
The skull fossil from England is the only known specimen of its species, so only nondestructive techniques could be used during the study.
The work on Coccocephalus is part of a broader effort by Friedman, Figueroa, and colleagues that uses computed tomography (CT) scanning to peer inside the skulls of early ray-finned fishes. The goal of the larger study is to obtain internal anatomical details that provide insights about evolutionary relationships.
In the case of C. wildi, Friedman wasn't looking for a brain when he fired up his micro-CT scanner and examined the skull fossil.
"I scanned it, then I loaded the data into the software we use to visualize these scans and noticed that there was an unusual, distinct object inside the skull," he says.
The unidentified blob was brighter on the CT image—and therefore likely denser—than the bones of the skull or the surrounding rock.
"It is common to see amorphous mineral growths in fossils, but this object had a clearly defined structure," Friedman says.
The mystery object displayed several features found in vertebrate brains: It was bilaterally symmetrical, it contained hollow spaces similar in appearance to ventricles, and it had multiple filaments extending toward openings in the braincase, similar in appearance to cranial nerves, which travel through such canals in living species.
"It had all these features, and I said to myself, 'Is this really a brain that I'm looking at?'" Friedman says. "So I zoomed in on that region of the skull to make a second, higher-resolution scan, and it was very clear that that's exactly what it had to be. And it was only because this was such an unambiguous example that we decided to take it further."
Though preserved brain tissue has rarely been found in vertebrate fossils, scientists have had better success with invertebrates. For example, the intact brain of a 310-million-year-old horseshoe crab was reported in 2021, and scans of amber-encased insects have revealed brains and other organs. There is even evidence of brains and other parts of the nervous system recorded in flattened specimens more than 500 million years old.
The preserved brain of a 300-million-year-old shark relative was reported in 2009. But sharks, rays, and skates are cartilaginous fishes, which today hold relatively few species compared to the ray-finned fish lineage containing Coccocephalus.
Early ray-finned fishes like Coccocephalus can tell scientists about the initial evolutionary phases of today's most diverse fish group, which includes everything from trout to tuna, seahorses to flounder.
There are roughly 30,000 ray-finned fish species, and they account for about half of all backboned animal species. The other half is split between land vertebrates—birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians—and less diverse fish groups like jawless fishes and cartilaginous fishes.
The Coccocephalus skull fossil is on loan to Friedman from England's Manchester Museum. It was recovered from the roof of the Mountain Fourfoot coal mine in Lancashire and was first scientifically described in 1925. The fossil was found in a layer of soapstone adjacent to a coal seam in the mine.
Though only its skull was recovered, scientists believe that C. wildi would have been 6 to 8 inches long. Judging from its jaw shape and its teeth, it was probably a carnivore, Figueroa says.
When the fish died, scientists suspect it was quickly buried in sediments with little oxygen present. Such environments can slow the decomposition of soft body parts.
In addition, a chemical micro-environment inside the skull's braincase may have helped to preserve the delicate brain tissues and to replace them with a dense mineral, possibly pyrite, Figueroa says.
Evidence supporting this idea comes from the cranial nerves, which send electrical signals between the brain and the sensory organs. In the Coccocephalus fossil, the cranial nerves are intact inside the braincase but disappear as they exit the skull.
"There seems to be, inside this tightly enclosed void in the skull, a little micro-environment that is conducive to the replacement of those soft parts with some kind of mineral phase, capturing the shape of tissues that would otherwise simply decay away," Friedman says.
Detailed analysis of the fossil, along with comparisons to the brains of modern-fish specimens from the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology collection, revealed that the brain of Coccocephalus has a raisin-size central body with three main regions that roughly correspond to the forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain in living fishes.
Cranial nerves project from both sides of the central body. Viewed as a single unit, the central body and the cranial nerves resemble a tiny crustacean, such as a lobster or a crab, with projecting arms, legs and claws.
Notably, the brain structure of Coccocephalus indicates a more complicated pattern of fish-brain evolution than is suggested by living species alone, according to the authors.
"These features give the fossil real value in understanding patterns of brain evolution, rather than simply being a curiosity of unexpected preservation," Figueroa says.
For example, all living ray-finned fishes have an everted brain, meaning that the brains of embryonic fish develop by folding tissues from the inside of the embryo outward, like a sock turned inside out.
All other vertebrates have evaginated brains, meaning that neural tissue in developing brains folds inward.
"Unlike all living ray-finned fishes, the brain of Coccocephalus folds inward," Friedman says. "So, this fossil is capturing a time before that signature feature of ray-finned fish brains evolved. This provides us with some constraints on when this trait evolved—something that we did not have a good handle on before the new data on Coccocephalus."
Comparisons to living fishes showed that the brain of Coccocephalus is most similar to the brains of sturgeons and paddlefish, which are often called "primitive" fishes because they diverged from all other living ray-finned fishes more than 300 million years ago.
Friedman and Figueroa are continuing to CT scan the skulls of ray-finned fish fossils, including several specimens that Figueroa brought to Ann Arbor on loan from institutions in his home country, Brazil. Figueroa says his doctoral dissertation was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic but is expected to be completed in summer 2024.
Friedman and Figueroa says the discovery highlights the importance of preserving specimens in paleontology and zoology museums.
"Here we've found remarkable preservation in a fossil examined several times before by multiple people over the past century," Friedman says. "But because we have these new tools for looking inside of fossils, it reveals another layer of information to us.
"That's why holding onto the physical specimens is so important. Because who knows, in 100 years, what people might be able to do with the fossils in our collections now."
The study includes data produced at University of Michigan's Computed Tomography in Earth and Environmental Science facility, which is supported by the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.
Sam Giles of London's Natural History Museum and the University of Birmingham is a senior author of the study. Additional coauthors are from the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology.
Source: University of Michigan
The post Super ancient fish skull holds oldest backboned animal brain fossil appeared first on Futurity.
The parent company of Sports Illustrated has announced that its magazines will begin using artificial intelligence to churn out garbage content in the absolute most oxymoronic fashion.
In a completely tone-deaf press release, the Arena Group — which owns properties like SI, Parade and Men's Journal — gleefully announced that it's embarking on "strategic development partnerships" with two little–known AI firms, Jasper and Nota.
"While AI will never replace journalism, reporting, or crafting and editing a story, rapidly improving AI technologies can create enterprise value for our brands and partners," Ross Levinsohn, the CEO and chairman of The Arena Group, said in the statement. "By leveraging these proprietary tools, we believe all those who create content on our platform will find opportunities to reach consumers in new ways."
In spite of that promise, the Arena Group ends up showing its hand, writing that in a "pilot, editors used AI technology to rapidly identify trending topics and relevant proprietary archival content and photos to produce trending and evergreen articles."
Translation: an algorithm is going to tell both human and AI writers what to write.
Both of these apparent OpenAI competitors are, per the statement, going to help the publisher "streamline workflows," which is a business jargon excuse for buying automation software that is supposed to make less work but that, in practice, often ends up breaking spectacularly.
On a scale from CNET to BuzzFeed, this announcement seems to fall closer to the CNET end of the spectrum, with the Arena Group's empty promise that AI isn't there to take his employees' jobs followed by a description of how it will, in fact, replace human content.
More on the AI content wars: Red Ventures Knew Its AI Lied and Plagiarized, Deployed It at CNET Anyway
The post "AI Will Never Replace Journalism," Says Magazine CEO Replacing Journalists With AI appeared first on Futurism.
In what's perhaps an attempt to head off bad press — or, at very least, convince people he's not the bad guy —
CEO Sam Altman has given Forbes an interview in which he claims that his for-profit company is ultimately going to bring about capitalism's downfall.
First, some context. Altman, who is also the president of the uber-influential Y Combinator startup incubator, is one of only OG OpenAI cofounders still standing. The company's decision to go from more of a research vehicle to a for-profit venture in 2019 was somewhat overshadowed by his fellow cofounder Elon Musk's decision to leave the firm — over some seemingly huge disagreements about its direction.
The CEO behind the record-breaking ChatGPT has a bit of a strange background, the TL;DR of which being that he once admitted to being a doomsday prepper who believes that killer artificial intelligence or a lab-modified virus could bring about the end of days.
Much of the OpenAI CEO's rhetoric in his recent Forbes exclusive hinges on the future — the future of the company, of course, but also on the future of AI in general, and how Altman believes it will dovetail with sentient AIs, otherwise known as artificial general intelligence (AGI).
Anxious General Intelligence
While Altman doesn't think we're that close to AIs gaining consciousness — a belief that's not quite shared by fellow OG OpenAI-er Ilya Sutskever — he did tell Forbes that creating AGI is "the thrust that drives all my actions" and, it seems, his raison d'etre for the firm.
In one exchange, Forbes' Alex Konrad noted the inherent tension regarding capitalism that's found between OpenAI's "research-driven" foundation and the buckets of money investors have put into it. Altman had a provocative response.
"I think capitalism is awesome. I love capitalism," he told Forbes. "Of all of the bad systems the world has, it's the best one — or the least bad one we found so far. I hope we find a way better one."
"I think that if AGI really truly fully happens," he continued, "I can imagine all these ways that it breaks capitalism."
If you're confused by this response, you're not alone. But then again, OpenAI itself was founded to head off the worst outcomes of AGI and is now apparently gunning to make it a reality — so confusion is, it seems, the most rational response to that revelation.
More on OpenAI: We Tested OpenAI's New AI-Detector and Uhhhhh
The post OpenAI CEO Says His Tech Is Poised to "Break Capitalism" appeared first on Futurism.
A new wearable sensor is so cheap and simple to produce it can be hand-drawn with a pencil onto paper treated with sodium chloride.
The sensor could clear the way for wearable, self-powered monitors to predict major health concerns like cardiac arrest and pneumonia. And it could even let you know when your baby's diaper needs a change.
"Our team has been focused on developing devices that can capture vital information for human health," says Huanyu "Larry" Cheng, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics at Penn State and lead author of the study in the journal Nano Letters. "The goal is early prediction for disease conditions and health situations, to spot problems before it is too late."
The paper describes the design and fabrication process for a reliable, hand-drawn electrode sensor created using a pencil, drawn on paper treated with a sodium chloride solution. The hydration sensor is highly sensitive to changes in humidity and provides accurate readings over a wide range of relative humidity levels, from 5.6% to 90%.
Simple and quick sensor
Research into wearable sensors has been gaining momentum because of their wide-ranging applications in medical health, disaster warning, and military defense, Cheng explains.
Flexible humidity sensors have become increasingly necessary in health care, for uses such as respiratory monitoring and skin humidity detection, but it is still challenging to achieve high sensitivity and easy disposal with simple, low-cost fabrication processes, he adds.
"We wanted to develop something low-cost that people would understand how to make and use—and you can't get more accessible than pencil and paper," says Li Yang, professor in the School of Artificial Intelligence at Hebei University of Technology in China.
"You don't need to have some piece of multi-million-dollar equipment for fabrication. You just need to be able to draw within the lines of a pre-drawn electrode on a treated piece of paper. It can be done simply and quickly."
The device takes advantage of the way paper naturally reacts to changes in humidity and uses the graphite in the pencil to interact with water molecules and the sodium chloride solution. As water molecules are absorbed by the paper, the solution becomes ionized and electrons begin to flow to the graphite in the pencil, setting off the sensor, which detects those changes in humidity in the environment and sends a signal to a smartphone, which displays and records the data.
Essentially, drawing on the pre-treated paper within pre-treated lines creates a miniaturized paper circuit board. The paper can be connected to a computer with copper wires and conductive silver paste to act as an environmental humidity detector.
Smart diapers and masks
For wireless application, such as "smart diapers" and mask-based respiration monitoring, the drawing is connected to a tiny lithium battery which powers data transmission to a smartphone via Bluetooth.
For the respiration monitor, the team drew the electrode directly on a solution-treated face mask. The sensor easily differentiated mouth breathing from nose breathing and was able to classify three breathing states: deep, regular, and rapid.
Cheng explains that the data collected could be used to detect the onset of various disease conditions, such as respiratory arrest and shortness of breath and provide opportunities in the smart internet of things and telemedicine.
He adds that respiratory rate is a fundamental vital sign and research has shown it to be an early indicator of a variety of pathological conditions such as cardiac events, pneumonia, and clinical deterioration. It can also indicate emotional stressors like cognitive load, heat, cold, physical effort, and exercise-induced fatigue.
Compared with breath, the human skin exhibits a smaller change in humidity, but the researchers were still able to detect changes using their pencil-on-paper humidity sensor, even after test subjects applied lotion or exercised. Skin is the body's largest organ, Cheng says, so if it is not processing moisture correctly, that could indicate that some other health issue is going on.
"Different types of disease conditions result in different rates of water loss on our skin," he says. "The skin will function differently based on those underlying conditions, which we will be able to flag and possibly characterize using the sensor."
How wet is wet?
The team also integrated four humidity sensors between the absorbent layers of a diaper to create a "smart diaper," capable of detecting wetness and alerting for a change.
"That application was actually born out of personal experience," says Cheng, who is the father of two young children. "There's no easy way to know how wet is wet, and that information could be really valuable for parents. The sensor can provide data in the short-term, to alert for diaper changes, but also in the long-term, to show patterns that can inform parents about the overall health of their child."
The applications of the humidity sensor go beyond "smart diapers" and monitoring for respiration and perspiration, Cheng explains. The team also deployed the sensor as a noncontact switch, which could sense the humidity changes in the air from the presence of a finger without the finger touching the sensor. The team used the noncontact switch to operate a small-scale elevator, play a keyboard and light up an LED array.
"The atoms on the finger don't need to touch the button, they only need to be near the surface to diffuse the water molecules and trigger the signal," Cheng says. "When we think about what we learned from the pandemic about the need to limit the body's contact with shared surfaces, a sensor like this could be an important tool to stop potential contamination."
Additional coauthors are from Hebei University of Technology, Tianjin Tianzhong Yimai Technology Development Co. Ltd., and Penn State.
The National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and Penn State funded the work.
Source: Penn State
The post Smart diapers could tell you when baby needs changing appeared first on Futurity.
Nature, Published online: 03 February 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-00262-3Models show that four closely spaced eruptions would have interfered with Nile River patterns that aided farmers.
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**What is your take on using brain wave readers to protect and enhance employee performance**
I just saw a WEF 2023 presentation showing some interesting tech in there, some ear buds and a scarf aimed at monitoring and applying shocks when conditions are met.
Is this the future?
|submitted by /u/theindependentonline
|submitted by /u/EricFromOuterSpace
|submitted by /u/Ezekiel_W
|submitted by /u/lughnasadh
Scientific Reports, Published online: 03 February 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-29318-0Author Correction: Assessing the United Nations sustainable development goals from the inclusive wealth perspective
Scientific Reports, Published online: 03 February 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-29306-4Author Correction: High probability of successive occurrence of Nankai megathrust earthquakes